Experiencing everything the key to finding tourism passion

Janet Tang gained her Masters degree in Tourism Management whilst interning and working part-time for tourism organisations. Now a Tourism Marketing Coordinator for KiwiRail, she says you never stop learning in the tourism industry.

Q.         What qualifications and subjects did you attain at school?

In 2008 I started my double degree of Bachelor of Tourism Management and Bachelor of Commerce and Administration. After a break, I went back to study in 2013 and received first class honours. I then went on to achieve my Masters of Tourism Management in 2016.

Q.         Outline your career path once you left school.

I started as a retail assistant at Davis Food Ingredients part-time during my initial university study, then moved on to manager at a boutique store.

During postgrad I worked part-time as an administration assistant at Victoria University of Wellington, and as an intern at Tourism Industry Aotearoa while completing my Masters.

I currently work as the Tourism Marketing Coordinator for KiwiRail’s tourism brand, The Great Journeys of NZ.

Q.         What have been the highlights for you?

I’ve had a lot of different jobs, both part and full-time, and I must say that that the highlights are the people I have met. Some have been great connections, and have helped me along the way of building my career. But some of my closest friendships are people who I have met along my career path.

I’ve also had the opportunities to meet and work with the bigger players in the industry, like Tourism New Zealand, TIA, WREDA. It’s been great seeing how they work, what their strategies are, and how we align.

Getting to participate in major events is also a highlight for me. When I was working at TIA and Victoria University Wellington, I was always very excited when I got to participate in some of the major events like TRENZ and the Tourism Summit.

In my current role as Tourism Marketing Coordinator for The Great Journeys of NZ, I have been very fortunate that I have been given many opportunities to organise major events like our TranzAlpine Train’s 30th birthday.

All the planning and coordinating of different stakeholders is stressful, but exciting at the same time. Then when it all comes together on the day and everyone is happy and excited, that is just the best feeling.

Q.         What attracted you to the industry and kept you in it?

It’s all very diverse and every day is different- there is so much going on! For example, in my role, one minute I can be speaking to film crews from Shanghai or Japan trying to plan how to shoot on the Interislander so that our brand is showcased in the best, but still organic, way on the international screens.

Then I could be planning the look and feel of the trade booth at TRENZ to make sure we showcase our brand in the best possible way among all the international delegates as well as the rest of the New Zealand tourism industry. It sounds stressful, but it’s all very exciting at the same time and I love a new challenge.

And also, you don’t stop learning in this industry. Tourism is always changing and at a very fast pace. I thrive on insight and knowledge, so I’m a bit of a geek and really enjoy how the data is always changing. New insights are always coming through to help us cater to visitors better, build improved visitor experiences, and also manage a sustainable tourism environment so that we are looking after our host communities as well. So you are always learning new information to keep that balance.

Q.         What are the challenges for young people? 

Gaining experience and getting your foot in the door is always going to be the hardest. The biggest struggle for me personally, and I think it’s common, was not having enough or any experience for the job I wanted.  There are always people out there that have more experience.

And once you get the job, it’s adjusting to your new lifestyle. In that first 6 months, you will learn so much about your industry and about working with people. How it works in an office environment, how you communicate with different stakeholders, how you fit in.

Q.         Any advice for a school-leaver? 

 To address the experience struggle, do volunteer work, network and meet people. I gained a lot of experience when I was interning with TIA, and through that I learnt so much about the industry and met a lot of people.

Don’t be afraid to try and don’t be afraid to fail. Especially if your role is ‘graduate level’! It’s ok to fail if you learn from your mistakes. As we learnt at school, sometimes the best method is trial and error.